Showing posts from June, 2010

Pitch That Novel!

Not in the trash though. No, I want you to know what your pitch is so that if someone were to walk up to you and say, "Hey, what's your book about?" you'd be able to tell them. Right there on the spot.
You know how a movie has a little blurb when you look up its information, something like, Jenny Little gets lost in the forest and must find a way back to Strangerland. It doesn't tell you all the subplot or characters, just the meat of the story. I was working on a couple the other week for The Soul Seekers and here they are:
Seventeen-year-old Emma Shay must make a decision to leave small-town Springvail or stay and save the boy she loves, a ghost.
Seventeen-year-old Emma Shay is dying to get out of small-town Springvail, but after falling in love with a young man no one else can see, decides to stay and help get his soul back from a cult called the Soul Seekers.
I remember a while back when someone asked me what my book was about, I couldn't put together a…


I was thinking the other day how much harder it is for me to speak than to write. I don't know why that is, but it just is. Even as a child, I preferred to write notes to people instead of telling them what was on my mind.
Piano was a great tool for me in my teens. I babysat in exchange for free lessons and learned The Maple Leaf Rag in a few weeks, with Malaguena coming after that and a piece by Katchachurian (can't remember which one!). But Beethoven was my favorite and I'd rush home from school just to get to that piano and play a sonata. Beethoven had a certain emotion in his music that I understood; it reached in and helped ease some of my fear and teen-age desperation. Many times Beethoven spoke for me when I had no ability to form words. Then came Lennon.
Art taught me that I could express myself in a completely unusual way and still say something without loss. If someone hated it, if I made a mistake, it didn't matter. Mistakes were good. There were …

Free Books Rock

I have to write this blog fast, because Liam has woken up early and is being an annoying monkey.
Okay, just wanted to remind everyone that there is a wonderful place called your local library. If you haven't yet check it out, I would suggest doing so. Ours are open on Sundays (I should know as I worked Sundays forever) and have all sorts of books on writing, publishing, marketing, etc. You can also get all those hot summer reads, though you might have to put your name on the request list. If you can handle it, sometimes your favorite books are available in Large Print (little library knowledge there hehe).
When I took the kids the other day, I found the new Writer's Market and also a great newspaper/magazine called BookPage. It features all the new releases with author interviews, etc. Epic find. You can go to their website: WWW.BOOKPAGE.COM. Yes, I still suggest going to the library and picking up an actual copy, but I know how it is, yo. Actually, if you go through t…

Thinking Thoughts

Have any of you gone through the entire Writer's Market yet? I can now proudly say that I have! I sat down and combed through every agent, publisher, small press, contest, etc. that exists on this planet and am now armed for query attack. Wish me luck.
At the end of each publisher profile there is a little tip section where they can list all their likes and dislikes for submission. One publisher wrote something along the lines of, "Writer must have, or be willing to create, a strong internet following. Writing quality not as important as fan base." Shocking. I completely believe in creating a fan base—it's a real talent and one I wish I possessed—but writing should not suffer for it. Tell me what you think. I'd be happy to hear everyone's opinions on this one.
There are auditions tonight for a Women of Rock revue show. Guess I'll go for it. Only, I'm slightly sad that it's only for women, maybe I could convince them to let me do Freddie M…

The Kitty Wars

Every morning, The Cat (sorry, but we've come to calling her this, poor thing) saunters into the bedroom and starts in on trying to wake me up. "Meow. Meow. Meow." She could go on forever, or at least until I get my butt out of bed and show signs of actually being awake. First, let me point out that her timing has pushed into a frightening early zone: around 5 am these days. I'm none too pleased.
After I get up, and wait for Henry the dachshund to shake himself awake, we all head down the hall toward the kitchen. The Cat continues her chant, "Meow, meow, meow," until I've reached the cat food sector. Then her chant gets louder and her little cat dance picks up so that I'm (still half awake) stumbling over her circling, weaving form with grumbly curses. She's louder, "MEOW, MEOW, MEOW."
Now here's where it gets dangerous. The Cat likes to get in front of me when I am carrying her food down the hall. It would be fine, if …

Rambling Thursday Thoughts

Here it is, the middle of Summer and what have I accomplished? Well, I'm still working on that second book, I've started a collection of short stories, I'm doing art and website work for The Soul Seekers. I get up every morning to write, edit, or just send out queries.
Those are my writing accomplishments. The main part of my life is being a mom and aunt. Nephew Tommy has infiltrated my head with all his Spore Adventures (a computer game) and Mario Head videos (You Tube). The girls put together Littlest Pet Shop plays with Liam tagging along. We go to the pool a lot, where I keep watch of everything living. My skin is looking a bit too tan lately! Peanut butter cookies fly in and out of the oven, then disappear. Can I get you another glass of juice? Time for a nap.
On a personal level, I dream a lot and still want to be in that band and take that trip. Motherhood comes first. I want to read every book in Border's and run through the grass in every field. I wa…

Another sketch part 2

Okay, this one is very 1970's teen novel retro. A little messy, but I love it. I'll probably do a color rendition based on this outline.

Another sketch idea

You'll probably see a lot of these. I'm sort of brainstorming right now and this is all for the book website, promotion, when the time comes.

As you can see, I like to combine figures. Here William, the ghost, is peeking out behind Emma. He's got a little twinkle in his eye, don't you think?

Soul Seeker Drawing

I've been doing a lot of sketches for promotional ideas concerning the book. This is kind of an early version of what I want. It's still not there yet. The lettering needs help. But in all, I like it. What do you guys think? It's very retro, which is what I want, and it helps show others the kind of feel the whole 70's era.

Sounds of Summer

This whole week is setting up to be very, very hot. A scorcher. It's almost akin to winter with everyone seeking shelter inside, only we still have night, and night is a beautiful world when summer has her wings around it. The stars, peeking through a denim sky, the moon and her milky glow spreading across every surface, the fireflies and their sparkling dance.
I haven't heard a locust yet. Or a cricket. But perhaps I haven't been listening. I'll make it point tonight, when the kids are out there running around, to pick out all the sounds of summer.
It used to be a lot of fun to sleep out on someone's screened-in porch on a summer night; like camping, but not as messy. We tried to have a seance once, but I freaked out and broke the circle, typical. We'd each named the person that we wanted to come through to speak to us: Kelly had John Wayne, my sister had Elvis, and I had Marilyn Monroe. Kelly, who seemed to be the expert in all things occult, starte…

Clean up time

I was at my mom's house yesterday to help her with some computer transactions, and she gave me a past issue of Writer's Digest. It has some really great tips for creativity, I'm digging it. Mom self-publishes, and is very happy to do so. She has received a couple of honorable mentions, one recently with 2nd honorable mention, and one from Writer's Digest itself a couple of years ago. Go Mom!
Anyway, just up the block from her house someone had a 1970 Camaro sitting in their driveway. You don't know how hard it was to keep myself from pulling over and going up to knock on that person's door. Sweet Jesus I wanted to get in that car. Oh well. Breathe.
I've worked really hard this weekend on editing the first three chapters, because they're the ones most looked at by agents whether through a query submission, or a partial request. They look good. I changed the very first paragraph because it always bugged me a little—it was good before, but needed…

No judgement

TGIF! This week has had its ups and downs, but I really am enjoying my time with the kids. "Bicycle" by Queen has become our official going to the pool song. When it's over, they all start clapping and then ask for me to hit repeat. They also love "We Are the Champions" and a few others as well so it's a well-balanced glam rock thing I provide.
On the writing front, I worked very hard this week on tightening up both my regular and short synopses. I also revamped my query and feel it's looking pretty darn good. I'm going to re-edit the book this week-end and ask for some Beta help from a few library colleagues. Like I said earlier, there's a reason for everything. So no shame in finding a few mistakes and fixing them.
Also, there's no shame in feeling down once in a while, in failing, in feeling defeated. And there's no crime in finding new avenues to happiness. John Lennon once said, "Whatever gets you through the night, i…

No coincidence in synchronicity

I believe that everything happens for a reason. So, despite being depressed once in a while, I am really happy for the tough times of querying because they always bring out some problem that I didn't know existed: some mistake in the manuscript, a better way to phrase some passage, an idea for a better query, a revamped synopsis.
Best of luck and good wishes to all my blogger friends today.
Liam and I love this song. I seriously can't not dance when it's on the stereo.

Bless You

I just want to thank all of my friends who are emotionally supporting me through this tough time of querying. I hear submission is hell, and querying is nothing so geez, I should be strong and quit whining.
I believe in being honest, though honesty sometimes has its negative effects. Bring it on. I need whatever kick ass criticism I can get so don't hold back. If you hate me, if you love me, bring it on and I will use it wisely.
Bless you and your journey toward publication as well. I love you guys and thank you so much for being here during all times, both good and bad.


Okay, so now I'm experiencing the opposite kind of day. Today I feel very down about myself as a writer. Perhaps I've been reading too many people talking about what good writing should look like, because now all I can think is that I'm just horrible, will never make it, and should just stop wasting so much time with this. Then add the hell of querying and rejection after rejection. Part of me is saying that it just isn't ever going to happen. No one is ever going to publish my book.
But I am a fighter. So . . . I'm going to keep trying. I keep telling myself that this is a school assignment and finding an agent is the exam I have to pass. No excuses.
I hate it when I get like this. It's one of those times when I really need a friend around to kick me in the butt, you know? Sometimes I just get so down and I feel so worthless.

The Sweet Life

Today was a good day. It had a few tough moments, but in all I'd rate it as beautiful. Started off with me getting up early to write: I always have to feed the cat and dog and wait for my coffee to percolate first though. Then I sit down and wait for my brain to wake up for edits or writing (writing is harder than edits early in the morning). I really treasure this time and try to get as much done as I possibly can. As usual, I find myself squandering my time looking up music. I have to have that perfect song to write, you know!
Liam can wake up at any time, and when he does I calmly get him pushed toward something to eat and drink and a good cartoon. I have to be careful on the days that he's in a bad mood, because making him mad means a tantrum, and then no more writing for me. If he's in a good mood, I can get another half-hour of writing in before taking a shower. Then Julia wakes up and it's time to make eggs. She loves eggs.
Fast forward through all sorts …

Saturn Nights

This is my favorite song right now. Sigh. Gotta go, another busy day waits for me.

Folks on the Hill

I'm busy writing and editing, so here's a really old post that not that many people have gotten a chance to see. It's one of my favorites and will probably be my main short story submission (when I get to that adventure!). Take care.
Up on the top corner of Franklin stood a one-story surrounded by a large yard with lilac bush out by the ditch. Every spring Mom made us kids sneak over there to steal armloads of blossoms; the bush was large enough that we were well-hidden, and our house smelled great for a few days, making it well worth the risk.
Eventually, the inhabitant—a widow—moved away, leaving the house open for a short time before a family of three moved in. A few glances out of our salmon-colored curtains showed two girls about the same age as Cathy and I, and a mother in faded bell bottoms. Her hair was scraggly; a cigarette dangled from her right hand as she watched the girls running around the yard. A couple of trips up the street on our bicycles allowed fate t…

Book's Worth

I was at another bookstore last night, to have a look at their much larger YA section. There was a teen girl trying to decide which couple of books she might be able to buy—she was really thinking hard. And it hit me, all of a sudden, how important it is that a writer give these teens their money's worth— that the quality be good; story and characters relatable. I remember being a teen and spending babysitting money on some books (probably because it was cheaper than paying my library fine) and then going home only to find out that the writer had a dry tone, or that the first few chapters were the best part, and the rest had gone off track never to return. But then there were the times when I found a book that really reached in and touched me; changed me forever. I hope this is the kind of book that I have written. It's been my intent the whole time.
But darnitt, this agent stuff is so hard! I wish I had a magic wand. Or better yet, the knowledge of who would be my be…

I can't wait . . .

To get an agent. For people to read my book. To know it's getting published. To do book readings. To do book signings. To hear someone say they love the characters. To go to Indiana and see the town I kinda sort of based the book off of. To see it in the bookstore. To twitter its arrival. To show my kids what their mommy accomplished.
What are your 'I can't waits' ?

A little time; a lot of information

I spent an hour in Borders last night looking at all the current and best-selling fiction. Most of my time was spent in YA, reading the first few pages, back covers, publishers, page count, etc. Then I moved on to the publishing section and tried to read whatever I could on the business of querying. It was a good hour! I left with a copy of the Writer's Digest special issue on how to get an agent. Lots of really good information in there.
But the best thing I read last night was for free. Someone on Absolute Write wrote about how their novel kept getting rejected, and a meeting with an agent at a conference told her why: her main character is too old. Apparently agents will not touch a story with a college age MC. Of course, that's what mine is—Emma's 18. Or she was 18. I changed her to 17 this morning without hesitation. I was going to make her 17 when I first started writing the book anyway, so it's not a big deal. Emma is now 17 with a birthday coming up. …

Relax. It's Just JOY

This morning was the first in a long while that I felt myself actually being in the scene that I was writing about. It was great. I love it when I get lost in the story! Believe when I say, though, that it was after many days of forcing myself to come up with something—anything at all. A year ago I would have said I was a horrible writer and should just stop, but now I know it's just part of the process, and that writing isn't always going to be easy.
What are everyone's writing goals for the summer? I want to finish this second book, start writing a collection of short stories, get some memoirs published, and keep working on the website for The Soul Seekers—and querying of course.
Here's an early John Lennon recording. Ooooh, such a sexy voice.

Snail, paper, rock

You can see that I've been blogging less with all this summer stuff going on. I'm hoping that once things settle down, I will be able to find more time to get in the blogging groove again.
I have a question for all you fellow query people: Did you use a personalized greeting for each agent, or did you just use a standard introduction? Also, did you find snail mail or electronic submissions to be the most effective route? I'm hearing now that snail mail is better as an agent will actually sit and read the material. With email, it's too easy for them to reject a project. Having kids means I've been sending out a lot more email submissions, and now I'm worried that it was a bad idea. To tell you the truth, I kind of like the idea of sending off paper submissions—it's very Jo March.
Here's something nice for all of my friends with writer's block. Write a page or so in the morning, or before your usual writing session—just random stuff, like a jo…

Laura Ingalls Wilder and The Bloody Benders

Carrie, Mary and Laura Ingalls
Okay, so I thought I knew everything about Laura Ingalls Wilder. Until today. I just read that her family was exposed to The Bloody Bender family when they lived down in Independence, Ks. I guess Laura felt it was inappropriate to include such topic in any of her books, widely distributed for children. This is another reason why they are still categorized as fiction, even though the material she wrote was based on real-life events.
The Benders, for those of you who don't know, were a family of killers who lived along the Osage Trail on southern Kansas. Laura spoke about it in 1937, and the speech was later printed in The Saturday Evening Post.
There was the story of the Bender family that belonged in the third volume, Little House on the Prairie. The Benders lived halfway between it and Independence, Kansas. We stopped there, on our way in to the Little House, while Pa watered the horses and brought us all a drink from the well near the door of th…

My Super Awesome Favorite Show of the Universe

My favorite show is The Middle. It stars Patricia Heaton who so perfectly portrays Frankie Heck—mother of three and used car salesman, er, woman. She barely escapes getting fired by her sexist boss every week, thinks a hot dinner comes with packets of free ketchup, dreams of a romantic anniversary getaway to buy some new carpet for the master bedroom, and sometimes even discount shops with a stray curler stuck in her hair. Her idea to fill a used car with jelly beans for customers to count, almost landed her a promotion. But it was a really hot day and things got sticky.
I love the show so much because everyone in the family, despite all this craziness, really loves and supports each other. The daughter, Sue Heck, is hilarious. She has to have every school picture re-done three times because she somehow always messes it up—though it never makes it into the yearbook anyway. Axel Heck walks around naked all the time, bemoaning everything and everyone. And poor little Brick love…